MGM National Harbor serves up Pride cocktails with a side of LGBTQ+ history

Since opening its doors in 2016, MGM National Harbor has consistently stood out as a strong supporter and ally of the LGBTQ+ community. For more than a decade, its parent company, MGM Resorts International, has received a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality.

In observance of this year’s Pride Month, MGM National Harbor’s restaurants and bars are offering cocktails tied to significant moments in LGBTQ+ history throughout the month of June for guests to enjoy:

  • “Cha-Cha Heels” at Voltaggio Brothers Steak House: Cha-Cha Heels is a reference to the 1974 John Waters film Female Trouble, starring famous drag queen and Water’s longtime friend Divine. A Baltimore native and the mind behind such cult classics as HairsprayPink Flamingos, and Cry-Baby, John Waters created films that parodied and satirized the American mainstream. Dubbed “The Pope of Trash,” Waters became an icon of queer cinema with his emphasis on camp and counterculture art.
  • “Slender Aphrodite” at Diablo’s Cantina: Sappho was a Greek lyrical poet who lived from around 610 to 570 BCE. She earned fame across ancient Greece as an influential writer, poet, and teacher. Fragments of her poetry still exist and remain incredibly prominent in the world of poetry, with Plato even calling her the tenth muse.  Her poems were unapologetic about her love, desire, and attraction to women, with one of her most famous lines being “Sweet mother, I cannot weave –slender Aphrodite has overcome me with longing for a girl.” Centuries later, as people studied the remnants of her work, the term lesbian was coined from her home island of Lesbos. This stuck, and Sappho is now known as one of the earliest lesbians.
  • “Serene Christine” at Lobby Bar: After being drafted to the Army during WWII, Christine Jorgensen (then known as George) pursued gender transition in Europe before returning to the US. The public quickly became fascinated with her and her transition, and she was later named Woman of the Year in 1953. Known as “The GI turned Blonde Bombshell”, she pursued a career in singing, acting, lecturing and performing before she passed away at age 62. Her poise, charm, and wit won the hearts of millions and helped redefine gender identity and exploration in the public eye.
  •  “Codebreaker” at Ginger: Alan Turing was a British mathematician who made major contributions to our current understanding of computer science and artificial intelligence. In WWII, Turing, an openly gay man, played a crucial role in cracking coded messages sent by the Nazis. His codebreaking enabled the Allies to defeat the Axis powers and is often credited with helping end the war, defeat the Nazis, and save thousands of lives. However, soon after the war’s end, Turing was charged with “gross indecency” under a law that made homosexual acts a criminal offense. He was sentenced to a year of chemical hormone treatments, and less than two years after his trial, Turing took his life at the age of 41. In 2016, he was posthumously pardoned, and the “Alan Turing law” was enacted in the U.K., which granted a retroactive pardon to men who were victims of anti-gay legislation.
  • “Rendez Ru” at Osteria Costa: RuPaul is one of the world’s most iconic and successful drag performers, having created, produced, and hosted the reality competition series RuPaul’s Drag Race and its many global spinoffs. Having started in the Atlanta drag scene in the late 1980s, RuPaul then released his smash hit dance track, “Supermodel (You Better Work),” in 1993. Since then, RuPaul has modeled for MAC cosmetics, hosted his own talk show, released several albums, and acted in over 100 films and TV shows, both in and out of drag. He’s received several accolades, including 14 Primetime Emmy Awards, three GLAAD Media Awards, a Critics’ Choice Television Award, two Billboard Music Awards, and a Tony Award. 
  • “Pansy Craze” at TAP Sports Bar: The “Pansy Craze” was an increase in queer visibility in cities across America from the late 1920s to 1935. After Prohibition led to a rise in underground nightlife and entertainment, queer clubs, balls, and performers (known as pansies) experienced a surge in popularity. Drag performers, like “Queen of the Pansy Craze” Jean Malin, would sing, host, and party the night away with the biggest celebrities of the time, like Cary Grant, Marlene Dietrich, and Mae West. The period ended with the passing of the Hays code and police crackdowns on queer hotspots, but its impact lives on through the queer nightlife scenes found in major cities today.
Troy Petenbrink

Troy, also known as The Gay Traveler, is a well known travel and food writer. His has been a regular contributor to a variety of outlets including National Geographic, Travel Channel, DCRefined, CBS Local, and Metro Weekly. He also appears on local Washington news outlets as a travel expert.

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